It’s common knowledge (or, at least, it should be) that all people are fundamentally deserving of love, safety and security – regardless of their ability or health situation.
The same goes for the furry, feathery and scaly creatures many of us hold close to our hearts.
Though you might not hear about it as often, animals can have chronic illnesses, disabilities and health conditions just like humans. Some may be surprised to learn that there are dogs, cats, rabbits and other creatures with the same conditions humans have.
Living with an illness or disability is by no means “easy” when you are a human. There are so many obstacles to navigate, including physical limitations, financial costs and lack of social awareness or acceptance. As people, we still have a long way to go in terms of making our society a welcoming and accessible place for people with illnesses and disabilities.
But animals with health challenges face some pretty extreme challenges, too. They cannot communicate their symptoms or advocate for their needs. Many disabled animals are automatically euthanized because their care can be expensive and finding an adoptive family can be difficult. There are a number of organizations dedicated to rescuing and finding homes for disabled pets – but there will always be a need for more people to adopt them.
Like in the human world, there is a stigma attached to disability in the pet world that equates having a health issue with being “broken” or “imperfect.” Pets with disabilities may not be in peak health, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have incredible amounts of love, joy and value to bring to this world. They deserve to live the most wonderful life imaginable in a loving and happy home. (P.S. The same goes for people, too.)
We wanted to shine a light on some of the pets who are modeling how to live your best life with a disability and raising awareness of their health conditions, so we rounded up 17 animal influencers everyone should be following on Instagram.
If supporting disabled pets is a cause that tugs on your heart, we encourage you to volunteer or donate to a local organization that helps pets with health issues. You could even consider adopting a disabled pet if you’re able to do so.
Now, onto some very “Mighty” pets!
1. Ferris Wheeler (@turboferris)
Ferris Wheeler is aptly named for the wheelchair that helps him zoom around and play like a pup. Ferris has spina bifida, a birth defect that occurs when the spine and spinal cord don’t form properly. His owner describes his energy as “infectious,” and says he’s always there to boost her spirits on tough days.
2. Lil Bub (@iamlilbub)
Bub was born with a rare bone condition called osteopetrosis, which causes bones to be extremely dense and prone to breakage. Though she was almost completely immobile by the age of 1, she slowly began to recover and is now able to run, jump and climb. This tiny but determined cat just celebrated her 8th birthday in June 2019.
3. Pistachio (@porkchopandpistachio)
Pistachio is a Daschund with hemifacial microsomia, a congenital disorder that affects the development of the lower half of the face, and microtia, a congenital disorder in which the external ear is underdeveloped. Since being rescued, “Stash” is living his best life where every day is #TongueOutTuesday.
4. Tiddles (@tiddles_the_pteroduckdal)
Tiddles the duck hatched in his mom’s incubator in 2016, and she noticed a few months later that his walk was a little off. It turned out that Tiddles has a spinal issue that affects his gait, but he still lives an awesome life exploring the Australian bush.
5. Scooty (@super_scooty)
Named the happiest dog on the planet by Solid Gold Pet, Scooty’s smile is truly infectious. Her owner rescued her after she was hit by a car and paralyzed as a puppy. Through physical therapy, some sweet wheels and plenty of affection, Scooty is living her best life.
6. Piglet (@pinkpigletpuppy)
Believe it or not, Piglet is a dog – not an actual piglet! He is a deaf and blind puppy who was rescued from a hoarding situation and is the product of two dapple colored parents. (Dapple to dapple breeding is linked to congenital ear and eye defects.) Piglet’s mission is to encourage others to adopt disabled rescue dogs and bring a smile to others’ faces.
7. Ginny Rabbit (@ginnyrabbit)
This sweet, sassy lady is Ginny – a 10-year-old rabbit who developed head tilt (also known as torticollis) in 2013. There are many possible causes of head tilt in rabbits, but in Ginny’s case, it happened as the result of a parasite called E. cuniculi. Her owners believe she was probably born with the parasite in her bloodstream, though they didn’t know it when they rescued her. Ginny doesn’t experience any pain due to her condition, and now leads a life full of love and massages.
8. Smush (@smushofficial)
After being rescued by a vet student in 2017, Smush required constant care due to an upper respiratory infection, ringworm and an inability to eat on her own. Thanks to some love and care, she slowly grew stronger and was able to recuperate! Smush lives with a cleft lip and some genetic abnormalities and encourages her followers to embrace their authentic selves.
9. Beaux Tox (@beauxtoxrescues)
For adorable Beaux, every day is the best day ever! Beaux has a congenital skull deformity, and, as a result, was neglected for the first few years of his life. Fortunately, Beaux found a forever home where he is often dressed to look his best. He is deaf in his left ear and has vision issues on his right side, but is otherwise a happy and healthy dog nowadays.
10. Toby (@tummyandgummy)
Toby recently made headlines as an unexpected (yet adorable) advocate for Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), a connective tissue disease that affects the amount and structure of collagen in your body. Toby has EDS, known as feline cutaneous asthenia (FCA) in the cat world. Toby and his best friend Quinton, another special needs cat who lost all his teeth, have now settled in with their human companions in their furever home.
10. Freddie Mercury (@ready_freddie_)
Freddie experienced some trauma as a puppy when she broke her two front legs but did not receive proper medical care, and was left outside in the cold. She was also born with a severe underbite that causes some issues for her. Despite these challenges, Freddie now lives with a loving owner who said, “She brightens my world and sends a ripple effect of positivity to so many others.”
11. Turbo and Tilly (@turbotwolegs)
Meet not one, but two amazing kitties who both have rear leg paralysis. Turbo, 4, and Tilly, 2, live with their mom in Austin, Texas, where the siblings love to play with each other and snuggle. Their mom shared on Instagram, “i am thankful for these two beautiful, silly, angelic babies who make my heart full every day.”
12. Drogo (@drogothewarriordragon)
Drogo’s mom adopted him after feeling an “instant connection” with the bearded dragon. Both are disabled, as Drogo is paralyzed and has severe metabolic bone disease (MBD). In addition to his human, Drogo lives with three other bearded dragons and a few dogs who keep him company.
13. Flummadiddle Pudding (@flummadiddle2legs)
Flummadiddle is a Shih Tzu who was born without front legs. She loves to race around on her wheelchair! Flummadiddle is currently in foster care and looking for a forever home, preferably with an owner who has a limb difference just like her!
14. Mili (@mili_the_mini_cat)
A “little kitty in a big world,” Mili the cat was born with dwarfism, megacolon (an abnormal dilation of the colon), bones that aren’t fully formed, and blindness. Although vets originally didn’t think she would make it because of all her health conditions, Mili continues to thrive at home with her adoptive family and spreads joy to everyone she meets.
15. Squish (@apupnamedsquish)
Named for his sweet squishy face, Squish was adopted by a veterinarian just before he was scheduled to be put down. Squish endured blunt trauma to his head, resulting in severe swelling, deformities, scar tissue that prevented him from opening his jaw, and an eye that had sunken beneath crushed bone. After multiple surgeries (and lots of love and care), Squish is now doing much better and living a very happy life with the vet who rescued him.
16. Raven (@goatinthecity)
Raven, a Nubian goat, was born with a congenital defect that caused the upper parts of her hind legs to not grow in properly. Though she may never have use of her back two legs, according to her owner, Raven is still able to get around – sometimes using a wheelchair to help her zoom along.
17. Murray (@murraythedisableddog)
Murray was rescued as a puppy from Puerto Rico’s “Dead Dog Beach,” where he and his siblings were abandoned. At around 4 months old, he began showing signs of distemper – a serious, contagious virus that affects the nervous system. Murray experienced seizures and brain swelling and ended up losing all his teeth. Fortunately, he slowly began to recover. His foster family adopted him and he is now a beloved part of their family.
Do you support any organizations that help pets with health conditions and disabilities? Share your favorite way to make an impact in the comments below.
To read more about some very Mighty pets, check out the stories from our community below:
- When Your Dog Is Chronically Ill, Too
- These Mighty Pets Show How Healing the Human-Animal Bond Can Be
- How a Rescue Dog Reminded Me I’m Worthy of a Future, Even With Chronic Illness
- 5 Ways Animals Play an Important Role in Mental Health